I recently posted about the trainer visit and what we thought were the “good points” to take away from our visit. In this post I’m going to cover what I think were the “bad points” from the visit. Again if this is how you train your dogs that is totally fine but just personally I believed the following points are not for us.
- Although the trainer is a positive reinforcement trainer who uses treats for training and does not use or condone aversive training equipment such as choke chains etc he believes in dominance in dogs and that we need to be a leader above the dog – he condemns Cesar Millan as he doesn’t believe it needs to be done through force or intimidation but through utmost consistency and “rank reduction” which is covered in the following points below which I think is a bit bizarre and I don’t particularly agree with.
- Not allowed on furniture or beds – this is a personal choice for many but I don’t think it has any impact on dogs “thinking they are above us” or whatever. I just think dogs like home comforts and being near their family. I like Bonnie cuddling up with us when we’re watching TV and early morning cuddles in bed before work.
- Not allowed to give affection when the dog tries to initiate it – you should wait until it’s moving away then call it and give affection on your own terms. He recommend holding the collar while petting the head (what looked like pretty forcefully) and keep giving affection until you deem finished even if the dog tries to pull away. We tried this once each and was super uncomfortable with it and stopped. We don’t want to stop her moving away if shes uncomfortable, after all that would just be disrespecting her signs of discomfort and ruin her trust in us to keep her feeling safe and comfortable. Also I don’t want Bonnie to give up and stop trying to initiate affection on her own terms, I want her to feel comfortable approaching us when she needs to be comforted.
- Always eat before giving Bonnie her meals – prepare her meal and show that it’s ready and then sort ourselves out first. I don’t really think this is necessary, sometimes we do this anyway but on some days when we come back from work starving we prepare our dinner first, other times, usually in the morning, we give her meal first to keep her occupied while we get ourselves ready.
- Don’t let her eat in peace and always change where you fed her. He suggests petting her and moving her bowl and food while eating to prevent bowl aggression but I actually think this is far more damaging and more likely to cause bowl guarding and food aggression. I think a dog should be left to eat in peace, after all she doesn’t come over and paw at us while we eat dinner or pull the plate away from us.
- Don’t let her walk through doors first or go ahead of us when going up or down stairs. Again I don’t think this is a big deal, we always go out the front and back door to the house first but that is for safety to check if any cats are nearby as Bonnie loves to chase them!
- Besides these “rank reduction” techniques and some advice on crating, engagement games and advising the agility classes to mentally wear her out, we didn’t get really any personalised or tailored advice like how to deal with meeting other dogs on walks, how to help with her noise sensitivities through desensitisation etc.
So overall although we took some good points away from the visit we were left a bit frustrated at spending that money and a bit bewildered too as the advice above didn’t really get on with my beliefs and also he didn’t give us any real tangible or practical advice for real life scenarios that cause us difficulties. Like even if “rank reduction” techniques worked would that cure her sound sensitivity to vacuums etc? Somehow I don’t think so!
Anyway we are forging our own path with our training and trying to feel out what is best for Bonnie and keeps her most comfortable as even some positive reinforcement advice and techniques is aversive for Bonnie such as walking the opposite direction when the lead goes tight on walks. So hopefully we’ll do a post soon about what we have been trying out and how we are getting on! We have been having a lot of fun recently and taking things a little less seriously and doing our best to remember that she is not just her issues and that besides those she is a fun, cuddly and goofy little dog that’s a blast to have!
Bonnie having a chilled out rolling session in the grass, this is a big deal for us as it was somewhere a bit new for her and she eventually calmed to feel comfortable enough to do this! 😀